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Inmate asks for reduced sentence in Broadfording Road home invasion

July 11, 2008|By ERIN JULIUS

HAGERSTOWN -- During a rare court hearing Thursday, a three-judge panel of the Washington County Circuit Court heard an application for the reduction of a sentence.

In January, Stephen Wayne Rudisill was sentenced to 15 years in prison for his part in a January 2007 home invasion on Broadfording Road.

Rudisill, 19, pleaded guilty in November 2007 to attempted armed robbery.

By March, Rudisill's attorney applied for a review of the sentence by a three-judge panel.

The panel reviews happen so infrequently, Assistant State's Attorney Viki Pauler said she had never appeared before one before Thursday.

Defense attorney John Salvatore argued Thursday that Rudisill's 15-year sentence was not fair in light of the sentences other defendants received for their involvement in the same incident. Sentencing guidelines recommended four to nine years for Rudisill's crime, Salvatore said.

A group of 10 to 15 people went to a home in the 16000 block of Broadfording Road to get back $500 taken during a drug deal gone bad, prosecutors have said. Neither victim was connected to the drug deal, Pauler said.

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Members of the group beat up a man in the home and someone choked a woman in the home, according to records.

Ronald Dwayne Brackett pleaded guilty June 18, 2007, in Washington County Circuit Court to assault and was sentenced to 15 years in prison, with all but six years suspended.

Whitney Lynn Ingram, 19, the woman prosecutors have called the ring leader, entered an Alford plea to attempted armed robbery. She was sentenced to 12 years in prison with all but four years suspended. Washington County Circuit Judge W. Kennedy Boone III later reduced her sentence to three years of prison time.

Berandord Artilus, who choked a woman in the home, pleaded guilty to attempted armed robbery and was sentenced to 13 years in prison. He had a prior drug conviction.

Salvatore asked the judges to reduce Rudisill's sentence to nine years, the top of the sentencing guidelines. By law, the maximum sentence is 20 years.

Rudisill's mother also spoke Thursday, calling the sentence harsh. Her son is a good person and has never been in trouble with the law before, she said. He has remained out of trouble in prison, and he tutors other inmates, she said.

"We all deserve a second chance," she told the panel.

Pauler on Thursday called the home invasion a "terroristic attack" and said Rudisill's fingerprints were found on a loaded shotgun left at the scene.

"It was no longer just a fist fight," Pauler said.

Rudisill reported the gun missing the next day, she said.

One of the beating victims is still suffering, his shoulder having been damaged. After the attack, the victim was a "very beat-up man, a bruised man," Pauler said.

She asked that the judges uphold Rudisill's 15-year sentence.

The three Washington County Circuit judges who sat on the panel, Frederick C. Wright III, Donald E. Beachley and M. Kenneth Long Jr., will issue a written opinion within 30 days, Beachley said.

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